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Boeing's 787 Dreamliner takes-off from Paine Field

  (Source: Boeing)
After a rocky gestation period, Boeing sets off with the 787

It's been a long time coming, but Boeing's 787 Dreamliner has finally made its first flight just days after its taxiing run. After two years of delays, the next generation airliner took to the air at 1:27 pm EST from Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

The flight is expected to last for more than five hours as the pilots test the flight characteristics of the plane and the engineers on the ground crunch the raw data that is streamed back to them. The 787 prototype will land at Boeing Field which is just south of downtown Seattle after the test flight.

This first flight kicks off a nine-month testing phase for the 787 which will conclude with the delivery of the first production aircraft to All Nippon Airways in Q4 2010 – a total of 840 orders have been placed from airlines across the globe.

The 787 prototype is just one of six aircraft that will be used during the nine-month testing period to gain FAA certification.

While Boeing is hoping that most its major hurdles with the 787 Dreamliner are behind it, there will be new competition in the coming years from the Airbus A350 XWB. Like the 787, the A350 XWB's fuselage and wings are made primarily of composites, however, materials like aluminum and titanium materials are also used in the airframe. And also like the 787, the A350 XWB has a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 and promises drastic cuts in fuel consumption.

Airbus has received over 500 orders for its A350 XWB and the aircraft is scheduled to enter service in 2013.

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A350 XWB passenger experience
By xii on 12/15/2009 2:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
Correct me if I'm wrong: since the 787 Dreamliner uses composite materials, it decreases the pressure difference and humidity difference felt by passengers during a flight, right?

Does somebody know if that's also true for the A350 XWB which also uses composite materials?

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By Jaguar36 on 12/15/2009 2:14:48 PM , Rating: 2
Composites alone shouldn't have any effect on humidity or pressure differences.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By beerhound on 12/15/2009 2:32:49 PM , Rating: 5
Correct, composite material alone doesn't affect the humidity or pressure. Boeing says the lighter weight of the composites allowed them to build the cabin stronger without a weight penalty and that allowed them to raise the pressure differential. Bottom line is that the 787 will have a lower cabin altitude than any airliner before it and that will contribute to less fatigue for the passengers and crew. Gulfstream is doing the same thing on the upcoming G650. Go to their site to check that one out if you really want to see how to travel in style. LOL

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By blowfish on 12/15/2009 2:55:27 PM , Rating: 3
I think the reason for the higher pressure differential is rather that composites have better fatigue properties than aluminum alloys. You can have higher differentials with a composite structure, more closely approaching its maximum strength. In effect, it's a benefit of using composites, rather than Boeing designing the fuselage to be stronger.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By lco45 on 12/15/2009 6:24:37 PM , Rating: 3
Correct. Fatigue is the one and only issue with maintaining a higher pressure differential.


RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By Amiga500 on 12/15/2009 2:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
They do. Fatigue isn't so much of an issue when you've a very good idea of the strain field.

So a composite fuselage can undergo many more aggressive pressure-depressure cycles than a traditional aluminium fuselage.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By RubberJohnny on 12/15/2009 9:49:17 PM , Rating: 4
Thats funny in yesterdays article

You stated:
Talk to any stresser and they will moan about the stupidity of putting composites into wing spars (and even worse - ribs) right now. Or fuselages.

Why the sudden change of opinion? have you done some research in the past 24hrs and realised you were talking out of your rectum?

By mikeyD95125 on 12/16/2009 1:05:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yikes! The BS detective is back on duty.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By Amiga500 on 12/16/09, Rating: -1
RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By sxr7171 on 12/15/2009 2:25:19 PM , Rating: 3
It's just an upgraded HVAC system. But they did cite that the lack of so much metal allows them to increase humidity in the cabin in operation without worrying about oxidation of metals.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By blowfish on 12/15/2009 3:01:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but fundamentally upgraded! Instead of taking engine bleed air, which inevitably contains traces of (toxic) lubricants, my understanding is that they are using a separate system.

There have been several cases of passengers and crew getting sick from substances leaking into the cabin air - and it's more of a problem for air crew, who obviously get much longer term exposure than the average passenger. Since they banned smoking on planes, airlines get away with not changing the air so much which makes things worse too.

I can't wait to experience the better quality cabin air for myself, and I hope it forces Airbus and the rest to follow suit with all of their fleet.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By sxr7171 on 12/15/2009 5:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
I believe they moved away from engine bleed to electric heaters.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By Amiga500 on 12/16/2009 3:47:45 AM , Rating: 2
That is for the de-icing systems.

The air supply will come from an electric compressor.

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By SocrPlyr on 12/15/2009 3:16:18 PM , Rating: 2
To sum up the comments, the composite fuselage is stronger and doesn't corrode. It allows the difference in cabin pressure to the outside to be higher (thus allowing cabin pressure to be higher at altitude). It also allows a higher cabin humidity level, which should make passengers more comfortable (low humidity is also a partial cause of jet-lag).

RE: A350 XWB passenger experience
By SocrPlyr on 12/15/2009 3:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
Forgot a link to Boeing's PR materials.

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